Where does the road lead for green diesels?

Discussion in 'Volkswagen' started by seftonm, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    [​IMG] Germany's top diesel auto makers are still vying for a North American breakthrough. But the diesel push – no matter how aggressive – may not have legs.

    [FIMG=RIGHT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2009_BMW_335d.jpg[/FIMG]Jeremy Cato - THEGLOBEANDMAIL - Jul. 31, 2009

    Get past the political discussion and the article has some good information. Could diesel's second coming be over just as it is getting started? I hope not. --Ed.

    Diesel fuel prices are down and the competitive herd of diesel auto makers in North America is thinning, so this may just be the right time for German car makers to push their expertise in fuel-efficient and now relatively clean diesel engines.

    And so they are. Carefully. At least in Canada.

    After all, as the Ontario government made very clear in its recently announced electric vehicle subsidy program – up to $10,000 in rebates to buyers of electric vehicles starting next year – diesels are not in favour.

    Elected officials have apparently shown that they are perfectly happy to pick technology winners and losers in the auto industry. Their bias: electrics.

    The politicians have another little regulatory trick that reflects their anti-diesel bias, too. Under fleet average standards for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) and CO{-2} (carbon dioxide), vehicles are certified using a 35-year-old test weighting of 55 per cent city and 45 per cent highway driving.

    This might seem innocuous, but it's not.

    Diesel vehicles that perform very well at high-load and high-speed driving – commuting and freight hauling, in other words – are penalized. But vehicles that perform well in stop-and-go driving, like hybrids, are well rewarded.

    In the face of subtle but clear political opposition, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen have all taken a relatively low-key approach in launching new fuel-efficient and relatively clean diesels.

    Last year, Volkswagen released its cleaner Jetta TDI diesel and ended up winning the Green Car of the Year award in the United States. But the Jetta TDI has a ready-made fan base in Canada, so VW Canada really needed only to start handing out keys to buyers anxious for the latest diesel from Wolfsburg. No advertising needed and barely any effort on the public relations front.... [RM]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/auto/where-does-the-road-lead-for-green-diesels/article1235180/[/RM]
  2. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    The future needs to be in more vehicles that I can afford and want to buy. The Jetta is fine but it's the only option in the US for someone who doesn't feel like $40k is a reasonable price to pay for a car.
  3. jhu

    jhu Well-Known Member

    This. With hybrids being so prevalent, I really don't see diesel making that much of an in-road here in the USA.
  4. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    I feel the same way, Tim. Two years ago, I was hoping that by 2010 we would have some Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Acura, and Toyota diesels in addition to what's here already. Unfortunately, many of those plans have been postponed or canceled. I would have strongly considered a TSX or Impreza diesel.
  5. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I think you're right in the near-term, but it really depends on what the marketing people decide to do. Marketing is the reason that hybrids are so prevalent: it's easy to sell new fancy technology in a funny-shaped car because that's how people are. It's less easy to sell the technology used in big-rigs (even if it is just as good!)

    In reality I don't think hybrid drivers are as hung up on hybrids as many people think. I think most of us are hung up on efficiency. And I think hybrids may have made it easier overall for diesel to enter the market by opening up a good-sized FE niche. If only the suits would figure it out!

    Even Clarkson gets it: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article6725766.ece
  6. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Mike:

    ___I agree with Jeremy, you and Tim. There are hybrid fans that have sprung up in the last 7-years that will never look at anything else but most would if the bang for the buck makes sense. If the die-hards have a chance to drive a Jetta TDI or BMW 335d down the highway, they will find out what they are missing. You simply do not worry about one that is turning over < 1,800 R’s at 60 mph and if you need to step into it, the engine does not just rev up while you wait to accelerate. Worse yet, the smaller and less emissions equipped European Super Diesel’s (Honda’s 2.2L iDTEC, VW/Audi’s 1.6 and upcoming 1.4L TDI, Ford’s 1.6L CDTi to name a few...) do the same thing but pull 80 + mpg while heading across any Continent one would care to drive. It is just that simple and I think many of us know it.

    ___That being said, the full hybrids advantage around town and pretty darn decent FE out on the highway more than makes up for the diesels superior highway performance and thus the end game. Hybrid performance has come up to the point of the ridiculous (HS 250h and FFH are both less than 9 second cars) and with the ability to pull 60 mpg around town and on the highway for a cost that makes the 335d owner cringe. It is no wonder we are steering towards hybrids in such a big way.

    ___Additionally and a negative towards diesels are three items... The Jetta TDI is made by VW which means it lacks the tactile feel of a middle of the road Asian vehicle. The single stalk controlling just about everything is not a 21st century design and the buttons and such everywhere else are just plain 20th century German. Get into the 335d and the vehicle takes on a high-end Japanese control feel while at the same time still maintaining its European heritage. One is cost competitive but lacks the finish (Jetta TDI). The second is the 335d’s price for the Asian/European interior is so far out of range that it cannot and never will be a consideration for the vast majority of drivers.

    ___The third item is filling it up at a truck stop or other. Diesel is a darn dirty fuel here in the US and I do not think wearing plastic gloves at the pump is something most gasoline drivers are willing to contend with.

    ___Remember me telling you about one of the majors at last years TDIfest telling me he would never purchase another VW TDI due to its “issues” but would purchase a future US spec’ed 2.2L iDTEC in a TSX or Civic sight unseen? That is a statement like no other and a correct one for reasons we know about.

    ___If a Super diesel were brought over with the Asian/American interior feel and for a reasonable price (I believe the hyper expensive diesel emissions packages is why there were so many back pedals amongst the majors), diesels would sell in the original market share estimates nearing 15% by 2016 to 2020.

    ___Until the price for a diesel vehicle comes down to a std. $1,500 or so over its gasoline counterpart across the board and equipped on Fiesta’s, Focus’, Civics and Golf’s, interiors are matching the average consumers current expectations and fueling stations are cleaned up to the point there is no difference between diesel and gasoline, US and Canadian citizens will be lacking the ability to own one of the best engine technologies available today. A $50,000 + Audi Q7, MB GLK or BBMW 335d will not help the market share “problem” whereas the far less expensive vehicles most own and drive would.

    ___I love hybrids of all types as most know (well maybe not the two mode due to what it was placed in and the large Lexus’) but the two most enjoyable cars I have had the opportunity to drive the past two years has been the Honda Civic iCDTi and the BMW 335d. To bad the rest of the driving public will never know what they are missing :(

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2009
  7. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    Most people learn how to handle a diesel nozzle without spilling on themselves pretty quickly. Don't let its pleasant odor fool you, the hazard characteristics of gasoline means that it is a substance where you should pay greater attention to your personal protection than diesel. It isn't uncommon to end up with burns from acute exposures or leukemia from chronic exposures. (I've had the former and am monitored for the latter.)
  8. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Rich:

    ___I know this but placing a nozzle in your hands with diesel that does not evaporate is akin to sticking your hand into a pail of diesel. The first time a diesel driver drives to the diesel pump, he or she will realize that there is more involved with a diesel than just the fuel savings. Diesel pumps most everywhere are pig sty’s and you are almost guaranteed to have some on your hands and the bottom of your shoes when you leave due to the pump nozzles and pump pads.

    ___Good Luck

  9. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    I understand what you're saying, but you should think of it like gas station restrooms in the sense that there are some stores where you don't want to go. By being observant about the appearance of stores that are set up for light duty vehicles I rarely have much trouble finding a clean dispenser. Small town convenience stores usually are OK if they're the sort of place I could imagine buying food, for instance. :)
  10. nervousmini

    nervousmini Well-Known Member

    Exactly! I wouldn't feed my vehicles from anyplace that I wouldn't feed myself!

    Clean stations and clean restrooms = Happy car and happy me.
  11. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    The first time Wayne and I stopped to fill the Sportwagen TDI, we stopped at a clean and modern looking station. The diesel handle was a different story, probably the worst I've seen. It doesn't take much accumulation for it to become slimy. FWIW, that's not what I'm used to around here. I usually use combo pumps so maybe those get cleaned more often.

    Wayne, you should see if you can try out a 2010 Golf TDI after they are released here. Similar powertrain but reviews have been saying a big step forward inside the car. I think the nav is still the same though :( VW does some things their own way -- most small car makers in Europe probably do. Some things they do still make me shake my head in confusion. I have one burnt out mirror heater because my dad turned them on one day and I didn't notice until 5 months later. Why there is no auto-off like in so many other vehicles, or even an indicator that the heater is active, is beyond me. Other design choices, I've grown to like. The headlight switch is one. I was raised on countless Toyotas and thought the placement in the dash was stupid at first. Now, I like it and curse the switch and dimmer in my parents' Toyotas, wishing it could be like mine. I know you hate the in-dash switch though, so to each his own ;)
  12. Shiba3420

    Shiba3420 Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I understand this...
    Not being familar with any, little alone "typical", Canadian driving, I want to substitute typical US drivers. In our case, I'd say only 55 percent city is too low. Even those who commute via interstate often do so it stop-n-go traffic that probably reads more like city than highway. So the real quesiton is what reflects the average driver in Canada?
  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Jonathan:

    ___We discussed this topic in our podcast last night (episode 7) and I really did not answer the question regarding should there be a change to the EPA numbers for diesels. What I was hinting at is the highway numbers in a diesel are achievable without really trying. A hybrid is a little tougher.

    ___When a press vehicle arrives; I take a look at the aFCD (if it has not been reset?) and the only vehicle that arrived without being buried was the Jetta TDI which arrived in the 41 mpg range after something like 400 miles of driving. I was amazed that whoever had the vehicle before let alone the guys that transport and clean it had not buried its FCD...

    ___In the bigger scheme of things, you do not want to own a diesel in an inner city or stop and crawl environment because they get hit just as hard as a conventional gas vehicle... Well almost but if you are a mainly highway driver, you cannot beat a diesel's superior thermodynamics and we have seen this time and time again.

    ___Regarding Canadian drive cycles, they are US drive cycles and the older highway/city with offsets IIRC. Many up North do not have the same kind of traffic some deal with in the US but those that do have to deal with the exact same mess.

    ___Good Luck

  14. Shiba3420

    Shiba3420 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Wayne. This is the 2nd time I have heard of a podcast in just the last fews days, but somehow missed everything before. I can't find anything on this site with links to DL the podcasts. Am I missing something? Might I suggest a seperate forum, like the news, where you and other admins can post info and link about each podcast and allow easy feedback on what your doing?

  15. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Hi, Johnathan -- look in the green banner at the top of each page on this site you'll see a green graphic at the far right labeled, "Go Hypermiling!" Click that and you'll be in business. :)
  16. scottd

    scottd Jetta TDI

    I know it is an extra step, but I keep individual folded paper towel (Multifold-Towel 9 x 9) in the trunk of my car so I can use one between my hand and the nozzle. I found this to be a very effective way to avoid getting diesel stuff on my hand.
  17. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    This is a tangent, but would have been good for YouTube.

    In west Plano, this diesel doolie is trying to go thru an intersestion and the soot cloud is four car lengths...like a bi-plane cropduster. :eek: That's what needs to go - not the TDI!
  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Chuck:

    ___Agree. And look at the BMW 120d base specs currently on the home page for what we are missing here in the US :(

    ___Good Luck

  19. npauli

    npauli Well-Known Member

    Diesel definitely had a disadvantage in the convenience department.
    Fewer stations to choose from, more chance of a mess when you fill up. More concerns about fuel quality, filtration, gelling in winter etc. There's just more stuff you gotta know and get used to.

    I'll still take a diesel, but my wife will probably want gas for all of the reasons above.
  20. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Unlike 48 of the 50 states, here in Oregon (and presumably New Jersey), diesel has some unique advantages and disadvantages WRT the nasty-nozzle problem:
    • On the plus side: you generally don't have to pump your own at normal filling stations, so the hand-stink issue is moot for most people.
    • Also on the plus side: although we are not allowed (yes, that's right, not allowed) to pump our own gas in Oregon, we are allowed to pump our own diesel. No more waiting for pump jockeys! This can be a significant issue -- I have waited minutes at busy times for someone to come fill my tank, when I could have done it myself and been gone before the attendant even got started. Even more irritating is when you're done filling, but you have to wait again for the attendant come around to remove the nozzle and hand you your receipt.
    • On the minus side, if you're a diesel owner in Oregon you will probably hit a truck stop and end up pumping your own fuel at some point and get your hands stinky, something that never happens to the 99% of car owners who drive gassers.

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